Book Review - Start With Why by Simon Sinek
There’s a good reason why Simon Sinek’s ‘Start With Why’comes highly recommended by brain training expert Jim Kwik, and that’s because it’s frigging awesome and will revolutionise the way you approach your working life.
The important thing Sinek teaches us in this groundbreaking book is to find our passion for life because that is ultimately what will inspire us to inspire others and be a great leader in business. By using examples from global businesses including Apple, Microsoft and Starbucks plus CEOs, thinkers and entrepreneurs, Sinek dissects their successes and chronicles their challenges in order to inspire others to be successful in their careers.
This book recommendation came at a very opportune time for me as I have been re-evaluating my own business in these rapidly changing times. Not only is the media landscape altering with print titles continuing to close down with Look Magazine is a recent victim but retail is in turmoil with the high street diminishing before our eye, House of Fraser and Mothercare are the latest on the high street to shut stores. With that in mind, I packed ‘Start With Why’ in my suitcase and headed to on holiday to Alicante to make notes from my sun lounger last week. So here are my key takeaways:
Why create trust? Why do you do it?
Sinek argues that leadership is about creating loyalty and trust but I’d never thought of it this way. I’ve been selling my consultancy as a salesman would, all facts and figures, all about years of experience, column inches and milestones. But Sinek shows very confidently we must show our ‘why’ and explain our passion to our customers. Sinek uses a Golden Circle to look at Why, How, What you communicate what you do. It is easy to start off with WHAT YOU DO but instead try thinking about WHY YOU DO IT first.
“The feeling of trust is lodged squarely in the same place as the way the limbic brain and it often powerful enough to trump empirical research or at least seed doubt.” Simon Sinek
My passion is to demystify, inspire and educate in the world of PR so I can help entrepreneurs and businesses be successful. Steve Jobs ‘why’ was about innovation and creating something different, they just happen to also sell computers. This passion and confidence infused the entire company through employees and into customers. A strong why can make your company sticky, and the founder, an inspiration.
Why find your tribe?
A few years ago I worked with a fashion client I believed in but almost immediately I realised they didn’t believe in me. This is the kind of client that would say ‘my last PR was terrible, they couldn’t get any coverage.’ And I thought I could do better. We all know how that story will end because ladies and gents, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink!
“A management consultant friend of mine was hired by a billion dollar company to help it fulfil its goals and aspirations. The problem was she explained, no matter the issue, the company’s managers were always drawn to the quicker , cheaper option over the better long-term solution. Just like the habitual dieter, ‘they never have the time or money to do it right the first time but they always have the time and money to do it again.’” Simon Sinek
The problem was, they didn’t believe what I believed, they didn’t see the value in working hard, putting passion into content and looking at long term goals. Instead they would ask me ‘how do we make money online?’ We were a mismatch from day one and Sinek teaches us that this cannot happen in business. The reason is that it’s a passion mismatch and you’ll be wasting your time and energy in the wrong direction.
“They just don’t get it” our gut tells us. The importance of identifying this group is so that you can avoid doing business with them. Why invest good money and energy to go after people who at the end of the day, will do business with you anyway if you meet the practical requirements but will never be loyal if you don’t.” Simon Sinek
I have worked up my own ‘red flag’ warning system over the years and although I still make missteps to this day, I hope I don’t make the fundamental errors of my past.
Why is charisma key?
“Charisma has nothing to do with energy it comes from clarity of why it comes from an absolute conviction in a bigger ideal than oneself.” Simon Sinek
My friend who works for a bank has a boss who uses energy as a yardstick for hiring. Because it is possible to fake energy and enthusiasm in an interview, the turnover of staff in his department is really high. Charisma is something else entirely and leaders have to possess this in order to communicate their vision. Sinek looks at the style of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, much more measured and considered than you would expect. But he points out, that you hang off every word when he speaks - charisma over energy.He also points out that Martin Luther King Jr gave the ‘I have a dream’ speech rather than a ‘I have a plan’ speech - true right!
“Energy motivates the charisma inspires. Energy is easy to see easy to measure and easy to copy. Charisma is hard to find near impossible to measure and to allusive to copy. All great leaders have charisma because all great leaders have clarity of why and on dying belief in a purpose or calls bigger than themselves.” Simon Sinek
It’s called “vision” because we have to be able to SEE what the future looks like. Martin Luther King helped us see a different, brighter version of the future. I BELIEVE!! Let us use this day to re-engage, re-inspire and stand together to continue the work to bring his vision to our reality. Happy 89th birthday Dr. King. #ihaveadream #mlk #vision #inspiration #inspire #lead #togetherisbetter
Why and how do you make it happen?
There’s a very good reason why partnerships are key in business - bringing a creative visionary (the Why) together with the strategic doer (the how). There are more successful duos than you can shake a stick at (and I don’t just mean Ant and Dec), look at Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, Bill Gates and Paul Allen.
“If it hadn’t been for my big brother I’d have been in jail several times checks bouncing said Walt Disney only half joking to Los Angeles audience in 1957.” Simon Sinek
Why do you need to make mistakes and learn from them?
A ha! I have done that right?If you find your why, your purpose, then every failure is just a step in the right direction. If you don’t have passion, the project will inevitably fail. So be true to yourself and pick your path wisely.
“Thomas Edison a man definitely driven by higher course said: ‘I didn’t find a way to make a lightbulb I found 1000 ways how not to make one.’” Simon Sinek
Why is it a long game?
Business is all about generating new ideas and revenue but the cold hard facts of a spreadsheet never indicate the emotional health and long term prospects of the company. While you can be busy innovating and working on future proofing your business, you might have to go through some tough patches - and you’ll not be the only one.
“Wall Street is in the business of making money between now and next Tuesday where in the business of building an organisation and institution that we hope will be here 15 years from now. And pay good wages and keeping people working with you it’s very good business.” Simon Sinek quoting Cosco Founder Jim Sinegal who famously pay staff 40% more than industry average to create incredible loyalty.
Why do you believe in your vision?
“Henry Ford said: ‘If you think you can or you think you can’t you’re right.’ He was a brilliant why guy who change the way Industry works.” Simon Sinek
The vision for companies can be so crucial that when it is gone, if a CEO / founder leaves, then the What is all you’ve got left which can lead to a very empty company. Sinek looks at the impact of departing leaders from Wal-mart after Sam Walton, Apple during Steve Jobs’ absence and also the significance of Howard Schultz CEO of Starbucks who departed in 2000 but pioneered the idea of the coffee house as the ‘third space’ between work and home.
This is what Sinek calls the School Bus Test - “if a founder or leader was to be hit by a school bus, would the organisation continue to thrive at the same pace without them at the helm.”
Enthusing a whole organisation with your why is key. Hiring those who share your why will ensure survival
After reading Sinek’s book I thought long and hard about my ‘Why’ and so I rewrote my About Me section with my motivation first. I’ve always been in this business to make a better world, to celebrate great marketers, teach others how to thrive in PR & marketing and inspire others in my field. And now, I hope I’ve communicated that properly - let me know!
Note - this post contains some affiliate links so if you purchase the book below I receive a small percentage of the sale. My reviews are always open & honest.